UNCLASSIFIED: Gov. Report Outlines American Decline… in 1997

Related: Global Trends Report 2015, 2020, 2025

Published November 1997

(Excerpt) The New Concept of Order Emerges . . .

The structure of international relations has been based primarily on relations between states, not developments within them. This was true whether under balance of power politics of the 19th century, superpower diplomacy of the last fifty years, or efforts at collective security as embodied in the United Nations. In all three variations, order rested fundamentally on a stable arrangement of power among states. States, in turn, were masters within their borders. This has been the hallmark of the international system that emerged at the end of World War II and the environment within which the United States has become the global superpower.

That system is drawing to an end. Three changes, likely to become more pronounced over the next 10-15 years, will render traditional approaches insufficient:

  • First, most conflicts today are internal, not between states. This tendency will continue, and states will find their attention increasingly riveted, and resources committed, to dealing with what goes on in countries: shifts in population, the expectation of–and demand for–material progress, and attendant demands on food, water, and energy.

  • Second, some states will fail to meet the basic requirements that bind citizens to their governments–essential services, protection, and an environment conducive to stability and growth. In some instances public expectations will outrun national capacity or governmental abilities. When these states fail, refugee flows, or worse–ethnic or civil conflict, and even state disintegration–occur, with the potential for outside intervention.

  • Third, governments whose states are relatively immune from poverty and political instability will still find that they are losing control of significant parts of their national agendas due to the globalization and expansion of the economy, and the continuing revolution in information technology. “National economic policy” in an era of globalization of trade and finance is fast becoming an oxymoron. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), from multinational businesses to trans-national relief agencies, will not supplant the power of governments, but they will weaken them. Governments will have limited avenues for influencing the agendas of these organizations. The good news is that governments will derive benefits from technology that moves information, goods, and services rapidly. The bad news from the perspective of governments is that they will have less and less capacity to control these flows unilaterally. International organized crime groups will take advantage of such technology as well, bypassing governments, or seeking to undermine them when governments try to block their efforts to run and expand their illegal activities.

Looking out to 2010, new international norms of behavior are being developed through experience with crises as diverse as Rwanda and Bosnia. These in turn are touching off a profound debate over when intervention–political, economic, or military–is legitimate, appropriate, or essential. Increasingly, the national security agendas of policymakers will be dominated by five questions: whether to intervene, when, with whom, with what tools, and to what end?

Clear lines of war and peace, threats to national security, mission objectives–the whole host of criteria by which the United States measured stability and calibrated responses–are being rewritten. One of the most challenging issues will be to what degree the United States will take the lead in defining and advancing this new concept of order, including the commitment of its economic and military power to support this change.


See also  Global Trends Report 2015, 2020, 2025


One response to “UNCLASSIFIED: Gov. Report Outlines American Decline… in 1997

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s